Exercise and Mental Wellbeing
This morning (at the time of writing) a colleague and I spoke to a room full of nurses about mental wellbeing and the importance of looking this whilst in the workplace.
As usually happens in these settings, you start talking about the generic methods of mental wellness: Sleep, Diet, Exercise, Nature, Medication. Then after about a round robin of conversation, the ideas go a bit deeper and become more personal to the individuals. One of the presenters shared her journey through depression, and how a package of care is what it took to manage her depression and to start to thrive again. A key part of that package was her fitness. Being able to exercise was not see as something done in isolation to maintain a good BMI…heck no. It was a crucial part of the care plan and given just as much importance as the mental health medications she was prescribed.
At CrossFit Whanganui we coach our athletes through movement, however the deeper impact that our coaches and community have on individuals is nothing short of life changing. Here are our five top reasons that exercise should be included into your care package, as a prescription for awesome mental health.
Higher self-esteem. Regular activity is an investment into Te Whare Tapa Wha (the four walls of your healthy building: Whanau, Mental Wellbeing, Physical wellness, Spiritual wellbeing). When it becomes habit, it can foster your sense of self-worth and make you feel strong and powerful. You’ll feel better about your appearance and, by meeting even small PBs, you’ll feel a sense of achievement. Heck, showing up three times a week consistently is an achievement in itself.
Better sleep. Even short bursts of exercise in the morning or afternoon can help regulate your sleep patterns. If you prefer to exercise at night, make sure that you take a couple mnutes to stretch, roll out or meditate. This will help you chill and turn off your “Fight or flight” responses you triggered going hard during a WOD.
More energy. Training regularly gives you more energy. As your fitness improves you’ll notice that throughout the day you have a deeper cup of energy to draw from. This truly feels awesome, and at the end of a hard day, having enough energy left to play with your kids or give your loved ones some quality time is priceless.
Stronger resilience. When faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you cope in a healthy way, instead of resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviours that ultimately only make your symptoms worse. Regular exercise can also help boost your immune system and reduce the impact of stress.
Community. This is something special to CrossFit Whanganui, that as soon as you join Onramp session 1, you are surrounded by people that are spirit givers. You walk into the box, and instantly your wairua is being topped up by the smiles, laughter, comradery and busting your butt alongside others that understand your struggles.
Edit: Last night I had a conversation with one of my bros about his cousin that had recently committed suicide. And while we were talking the entire time, my heart grumbling with Aroha for the bro and his whanau, I was thinking of this blog (that you are reading now) that I’d written two weeks earlier. I know I am already preaching to the choir, and if youre reading this you are connected to the CFW community and already taking steps to look after your mental wellbeing. If you have friends of whanau that could use this message, please forward it onto them. Or, sned them our way. We are happy to have a talk (No sweat intro) and if we can help with adding exercise to the care package of your whanau, we would love to.